The Vatican on Saturday sacked a gay priest after he came out as gay on the eve of a major meeting of bishops where the Church’s stance on homosexuality is expected to be discussed.
Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, a Polish theologian, had worked at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal arm, since 2003. He was also sacked from his jobs teaching theology at pontifical universities in Rome.
Mr Charamsa, 43, told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper that he was gay and had a partner. The Church does not consider homosexuality a sin but priests, whether heterosexual or gay, are meant to be celibate.
Mr Charasma held a news conference with his partner and gay activists at a Rome restaurant. They had planned a demonstration in front of the Vatican, but changed the venue several hours before it was due to have started.
“I would like the Church and my community to know who I am: a homosexual priest, happy and proud of my own identity,” Mr Charamsa said.
“The time has come for the Church to open its eyes to gay believers and recognise its suggested solution of complete, lifelong abstinence is inhumane.”
The Vatican said the dismissal had nothing to do with Mr Charasma’s reflections on his personal life, which it said “merit respect”.
But it said giving the interview and the planned demonstration was “grave and irresponsible” given their timing on the eve of a synod of bishops who will discuss family issues, including the Church’s position on gays.
It said his actions would subject the synod, which Pope Francis is due to open on Sunday, to “undue media pressure”.
At the news conference, Mr Charamsa said he wanted to make “an enormous noise for the good of the Church” and apply “good Christian pressure” on the synod not to forget homosexual believers.
“This decision of mine to come out was a very personal one taken in a Catholic Church that is homophobic and very difficult and harsh (towards gays),” he said.
“We can’t continue showing contempt and offence towards homosexuals.
“I ask the pope to be strong and to remember us, homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals and bisexuals as children of the Church and members of humanity.”
The issue of homosexuality and the Church has dominated the aftermath of the Pope Francis’ visit to the United States last week.
The Vatican has been embarrassed by a row over the pope’s meeting during his US trip with Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who went to jail in September for refusing to honour a US Supreme Court ruling and issue same-sex marriage licences.